I know what you’re thinking, “Does it really matter what oil I use in the pan to cook my food?” Well, yes it does matter. Not all oils are created equal, you know. In general, oil prevents your food from sticking to the pan and potentially burning. Not only that, but it adds a little flavor to your food and carries it’s own health benefits.

Depending on what you’re cooking and how you’re cooking can really determine which type of oil you should use. But it’s okay, I’ll walk you through all you need to know about proper oiling etiquette, along with some of its perks.

Coconut Oil

type of oil

Photo by Claire Waggoner

This is a very popular, creamy oil that has a distinct coconut flavor. Coconut oil is great to use for light sautéing, baking, stir-fry, curries, and is surprisingly tasty in desserts. It can also be used as a shortening. Its shelf life is approximately two years. At room temperature, it’s almost solid but it can be heated up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Rumor has it that people are using coconut oil for more than just cooking.

Olive Oil

type of oil

Photo courtesy of @winedaddy59 on Instagram

This is a versatile oil that’s great for drizzling over salads, sautéing, grilling, broiling, dipping, and roasting. Since it has an earthy flavor, it’ll taste good with any meat, bread, or salads. The shelf life of olive oil is between 2-3 years, provided it’s kept at room temperature.

Avocado Oil

type of oil

Photo by Samantha Thayer

Avocado oil is good for high-heat cooking (I’m talking about 520 degrees Fahrenheit). With this oil, you can sauté or fry with it, use as a dressing or drizzle for salads, vegetables, etc. This soft nutty oil has an average shelf life of one year, but be sure to keep it refrigerated.

In general, avocados are amazing. Here’s an interesting way to spicy up your breakfast using avocados.

Sesame Oil

type of oil

Photo by Jessica Kelly

This nutty oil is great for cooking and deep frying. Sesame oil is mainly used to enhance flavors in Asian cuisines, and can also be used for salad dressings. The shelf life is 1-2 years, but please be sure to keep this oil refrigerated. Adding sesame oil to noodles is also a nice touch.

Vegetable Oil

type of oil

Photo by Torey Walsh

Vegetable oil is made by blending several vegetable-based refined oils. It carries a light flavor, so you can cook and deep-fry at low temperatures. It can also be used for salad dressing. Vegetable oil can be kept for one year and should be left at room temperature.

If vegetable oil isn’t your thing, there are other ways to get vegetables in you.

Canola Oil

type of oil

Photo by Jessica Payne

This is another commonly used oil that is interchangeable with vegetable oil. It’s a neutral oil that is great for baking and frying, but can also be used for desserts and on salads. Canola oil is good for a year and should be kept at room temperature.